Gambling advertising

We are bombarded with gambling adds that tell us how much someone could win. Why not compel advertisers to also say how many people had to lose and how much money did they lose for this win to occur.
Not only could it help a lot with preventing children starting on this downward cycle, it could provide a welcome lift in Australia’s wealth and productivity when all those losses by consumers were spent in the real economy creating real jobs.


But you don’t understand, how could all those beautiful sporting and RSL clubs be built if the faithful didn’t go there and regularly lose on the pokies? These organisations are there to provide a social service. It isn’t their fault a harmless flutter turns into a disease that destroys lives. They all have signs telling us to gamble responsibly and to seek help if you can’t so they must be benevolent. The hordes who spend their free time in a glazed-over asocial trance pressing a button like one of Skinner’s rats have all read the signs so the club is not to blame.

Only wowsers (and those who understand statistics) say here is anything wrong with encouraging people to play a highly addictive game with no element of skill where the longer you play the closer your chance of being a net winner approaches zero and the chance of losing much grows constantly.


@syncretic had a good prologue but the story is that gambling ‘donates’ substantial taxes to government as well as donations to political parties. Which pollie would be courageous enough to be dismissive of all that ‘importance’?

A good overview of ‘us’.

On a different subject, our government seems to think jobs with a hour a week in hospitality are real jobs, and is selling ‘jobs’ as hard as it can. Have an advanced technical degree or similar? Emigrate! ‘Australia’ largely does not want to bother with you. No matter how much gambling dollars change to a non-gambling economy that truth will not change, at least not much. :frowning:


There is zero chance. The pub/club industry wields huge power and they will mount well funded and ruthless campaigns against anybody who looks like a threat to their profits. At this time there is no realistic solution to the problem only amelioration, and not much of that.

The rate of rapine is limited by setting the payback percentage to at least 87%. A house edge of 13% is huge! The house edge varies much according to the game and the rules but casino games are more like 2-10%.

That isn’t 13% of your stake it is 13% (on average) of every transaction, if you keep pressing the button that slice will probably reduce your stake to zero rapidly. Apparently the odds at keno are often worse.

The defenders say it is just entertainment for the members and guests. If so why not set the house edge to 1% just to cover costs?

As for online gaming our governments have little control of offshore operations so it’s open slather.


When I first went to Sydney on a business trip over 40 years ago, I was taken to lunch by a business contact to a RSL club which is the first time I had ever seen a poker machine.

He had immigrated from the UK and he related the story of when he had first arrived in Sydney many years earlier and was at a club when he watched an elderly woman playing the original one-armed bandits as fast as she possibly could.

His curousity finally got the better of him so he approached the lady and asked why she was playing the poker machine so fast.

She responded that the faster she played, the faster she would win.

I rest my case.


My father some time ago became Treasurer of a Townsville leading lawn bowls club. He inherited a batch of poker machines installed so the club could pay for weatherproof greens and covers. He saw how the pensioners were blowing their meagre pensions on the pokies every time they got paid, so the minute they covered the costs of the synthetic greens and sun covers, he threw all the pokies out!
It can be done.


“… the only winning move is not to play.” [War Games 1983]


syncretic, you have it nailed.


In one word “Greed!”. Unfortunately the fuel for our Governments at all levels is the constant income from a variety of sources which includes revenue from gambling.

An example is the pokie revenue in Queensland where they don’t like it, but need to have it.

Governments at all levels are not going to shoot the geese that lay the golden eggs.


Advertising and Truth?
My goodness what next!:wink:


It’s not just government. The sporting clubs provided the foot in the door for the industry. Notably in NSW and later in Queensland. It was a cynical and cunning strategy to add irresistible community values to a business easily rejected ethically and on any assessment of extreme social harm.

The benefits to the massive football clubs in Sydney were all to obvious. A change of government, loss of custom at the Tweed and Queensland also joined in the race to the bottom!

It was all too evident after moving to NSW (no pokies) that the one arm bandits could subsidise a non gamblers entertainment expenses to great benefit. Morally does doing so require a broken compass?

An honest Politician of course! :upside_down_face:

Sorry, Couldn’t resist the comparison.


I am a problem gambler and it is an emotional sickness. I have become a member of Gambler’s Anonymous. It is very sad the most money taken by the clubs/pubs are in the lowest socio economic areas. However, can we legislate free choice?. Only people who are problem gamblers can solve their problem gambling. The clubs provide a service and gambling (of any sort) is just one of the ways people get “entertained”.

It is like junk food. It causes numerous health problems but ultimately it is the person buying the food and ignoring potential health warnings that has to make the decision to change.

I would like to see less poverty by more restrictions on poker machine gambling but we can’t legislate freedom of choice.


Just wondering @WonderWoman : did enticing gambling ads have anything to do with the start of your love of gambling?

Wish you all the best in your struggle,
may you always be able to make the ‘right choice’ ! :blush:


It wasn’t at all. I started going with my partner and my mum and got hooked on poker machines. It is an emotional problem that gets triggered when I am with my mother who has been a lifelong gambler. My partner still gambles but he’s supportive of my decsion to stay away.


You are right that prohibition is not a good idea but surely more can be done to limit people’s losses. Above I suggest reducing the house edge.

Another way is to limit the maximum bet. Once pokies were 5, 10 and 20c a pull. As inflation reduced the value of these units the industry upped the stake progressively and governments let them. Apparently in NSW and ACT the maximum is now $10 a pull (well a button press). So you can lose hundreds of dollars in an hour.

Given the rate that you can push a button you can see how you can put your whole pay into the machine in a night. They take credit cards so you don’t even have to pause to get change.

This is entertainment?

As many have observed it takes its toll more on the less advantaged. Is it right for government to enable such profiteering and to tax the poor, the foolish and the sick?


The mute button works well on the Ads, just as not playing the pokies works well…


When my wife and I went to the US a couple of decades ago, one of our stops was Las Vegas. It was great - all-you-could eat buffets for next to nothing, sumptuous accommodations at the lowest of prices, and free or close to it entertainment!

We went back a few years later, and it turns out casinos needed to start earning more money - so they were charging realistic prices for all these things that had previously been subsidised by the gamblers.

I did bet some money on our first trip - playing blackjack. It’s the only casino game in which you can hope to break even, because the only advantage to the house is playing last.

This is the problem. It’s the same as with illicit drugs, and we should be seeking to minimise harm, not maximise taxes on people who already struggle, or punish people for their health problems! Banning ‘gambling’ would simply see it take other forms, that would almost inevitably be worse for the gambler. It would lead to more potential for crime, with little benefit to the community other than a puritanical glow that we’re stopping people from ‘making the wrong choices’.


Gambling ads should go the way of tobacco ads, they are seriously harmful, luring people into possible gambling addiction and eventual poverty.


The absolute minimum might be legislating that casinos and pokies cannot be loaded to favour the house, followed by formally legalising techniques advanced punters use such as card counting and so on , that the gambling industry calls cheating. That way the punters would at least be on a level field with as much chance of winning as the house. (crickets)


If you set the house edge to zero there would be no institutional gambling at all. Is that what you have in mind? Would you also want all bookmakers to balance their book, ie no books of over 100%? This would wipe out all organised betting on horses, sport, the TAB etc as well. ***

I don’t mind personally as I have no desire to try my hand at such gambling but many would be very upset. It is equivalent to banning gambling by fiat. I am not against gaming, (my definition) that is games of skill involving money that have a random element but that is a different thing.

If you take the view that gambling is a form of entertainment then there is a problem with the current situation as the cost of that entertainment is much too high due to the house edge and high rates of turnover that are permitted. But forcing organisations to make it free is not really a solution as they would quickly go out of business. It would be like saying to the Opera House that tickets must be free. They cannot operate without income. At the booking agent the price of the ticket is displayed and you pay up front. At the racetrack or the pokie hall the real cost of your ‘entertainment’ is well concealed.

But if gambling isn’t entertainment then what is it? I think it is an institutionalised opportunity for those favoured by the government and the government to fleece the unwary that is disguised as entertainment.

***The TAB have it even easier than the on-course bookmakers who have to set their book and the odds before the race is run. The TAB sets the payout afterwards!